Your Guide to College Admissions Testing

Your Guide to College Admissions Testing

Colleges and universities can use a wide variety of standardized testing in their evaluation process. Included are a list of assessments you may see as you prepare for college. There are some colleges that are “test optional” which means a student can submit a graded essay or other assignment in its place.

To find out more about test optional institutions visit:

PSAT/NMSQT- The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is administered in October. This is meant to be a practice test and scores are not sent to the colleges. As juniors this assessment is also used as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Juniors achieving a certain score may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The assessment is broken into two sections Math and Evidenced Based Reading. The assessment is scored on a scale of 320-1520 with each individual test section being scored from 160-760. Any freshman interested in taking this assessment should see their guidance counselor.

SAT/ACT Test Registration- Students are responsible for registering for all tests. Most tests encourage online registration through the appropriate website. Our school code is 310501. Click here  for the SAT and here​​​​​​​ for the ACT.

SAT 1 is a reasoning test that lasts 3 hours and 50 minutes with the optional essay section. The test revolves around evidenced based reading and math. The test is offered 7 times a year. Scores can range from 200-800 in each section with a total possible score of 1600. Some colleges will “superscore” or take the highest individual content test scores even if they were from different administrations.

SAT II - These are one hour subject tests which cover a wide variety of subject areas. These tests are offered 6 times a year with the exception of the Language with Listening tests which are only offered once. Not all colleges require SAT II tests. Students do not need to take them if the colleges they are applying to do not require it.

ACT- The ACT (American College Test) is offered 7 times a year. It is a 2 hour and 55 minute multiple choice test that covers five subject areas including: English, math, reading, science reasoning, Reading and STEM. The composite score is the average of math, science, English, and reading. There is an optional writing section that is an additional 40 minutes. The ACT is a curriculum based test. Most schools will accept either the ACT or SAT. The top score is a 36.

Advanced Placement-AP exams are given in May and are taken with the corresponding AP course. Scores range from 1-5 with 5 being the highest. Each colleges has their own policies and guidelines for accepting scores for credit. AP Test registration is usually held in March. Information will be distributed in AP classes.

TOEFL- The Test of English as a Foreign Language is for non- native speakers who have been in the United States a few years and who find the SAT 1 does not accurately reflect their abilities. The TOEFL is used to assess the ability to read college level text instead of the finer points of the English language.

Sending Scores to Colleges- Students are responsible for sending test scores directly from the testing agency. Students can either designate a recipient at the time of the registration or after they receive their scores. Collegeboard offers “score choice” which allows students to send the score from one specific test sitting. Talk to your counselor to see if this is right for you.

Extended time- Exams can be taken with extended time and accommodations for those students who qualify with an IEP or 504 plan. Very specific guidelines and deadlines are provided by the testing agency. See your guidance counselor for additional information.

Which test is right for you?  Click here and take a look.

Looking for review or prep material?

Go to Khan Academy or try the ACT Academy​​​​​​​